Electrical Safety – What’s With All Those Extension Cords?

Category: Electrical Tips

Green electric plug and power outlet

So you have a supplemental space heater you’d like to use in your chilly, cold Chicagoland home. Maybe you just have a cold room or a room with a draft you can’t seem to get rid of, and you just needed a little extra heat. So you go to plug your space heater in, only to find out you don’t have an outlet anywhere nearby.

Well, the next choice seems to be to get an extension cord and use it, but darn, it’s just not long enough. What to do now? Hmmm, you have another extension cord, how about connecting them to make them long enough and using it that way? Viola! It works! -and everything is fine, at least so it seems…

One of the most dangerous things you can do in your home is to plug extension cords into each other. People do this because their longest cord isn’t long enough to reach the appliance or tool they are trying to use in a certain area.

Sometimes a home will have a shortage of outlets. Either the builder or the first owner of the home neglected to install outlets wherever there should be one. Or perhaps the home is older and built during times when people just didn’t have all the electronic devices we do today.

Whatever the case, you may find yourself trying to plug in a space heater, hair dryer, or kitchen appliance only to find that there’s no outlet near where you need to use it. In a lot of cases in older homes, the outlet needed is so far away that even a regular extension cord won’t reach. That’s where the danger comes in.

Ask any Northb

rook, IL Fireman or Fire Chief and they will tell you to never ever run extension cords together, especially if you plan to leave them connected for more than a few minutes. Even then, it’s risky, especially if the wiring in the home is more than twenty years old.

When you plug an extension cord into another extension cord, it becomes a fire and electrical shock hazard. Most of us try to use whatever cords we have lying around the house, which means we may not have what we need. What you should be using is an extension cord that is manufactured for the longer lengths.

It’s much better to bite the bullet and take a trip up to the store to get the right length of extension cord than it is to make due with something that could completely destroy your home. There’s no sense in risking that, yet people do every day.

You also need to be sure to use an extension cord with a ground if your appliance requires it. On an appliance, the plug will have a third, more tubular prong which is the ground prong. Don’t ever try to force a three pronged plug into a two pronged extension cord or outlet.

Another short-cut people like to try is to get an adapter to change the three prong plug into a two pronged plug so they can plug it in to a two pronged outlet. The reason your appliance has a third prong is because it needs to be grounded. Bypassing the ground system is dangerous.

Electric shock can do anything from give you a buzz to kill you, and unfortunately you will have no control over how much electricity will pass through you if you experience electrical shock.

Having cords running from one room to the next isn’t an ideal situation, but lets face it, until more outlets are installed and the wiring is all up to date, sometimes you may not have a choice. If you find yourself in that situation, be sure you purchase a good cord that everyone can see well and that will provide you with the length and type of receptacle required by the appliance you need to use.

Otherwise, stick to not using the appliance until you can get your electrical situation straightened out. It’s so much better to be safe than sorry, especially in the case of extension cords and electrical safety.

If at any time you need an experienced electrician to install some extra outlets, new wiring, or update your panel box, just give us a call here at North Suburban Electric.

If you are looking for a Professional Electrician, please call (847) 564-4130 for Northbrook or (847) 697-4130 for Elgin. You can also complete our online request form.

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